Red Sox infield prospect Brainer Bonaci is one of 28 minor-leaguers participating in the team’s Winter Warm-Up minicamp this week.
Of the 28 players on hand at the Fenway South complex in Fort Myers, Fla., Bonaci is one of just three prospects the Sox acquired via international free agency.
Boston originally signed Bonaci out of Venezuela for $290,000 in July 2018, making him one of their more expensive additions from a 2018-2019 signing class that included Eduardo Lopez, Wilkelman Gonzalez, and Juan Daniel Encarnacion, among others.
After getting his first taste of pro ball in the Dominican Summer League in 2019, Bonaci had his 2020 season wiped out from under him on account of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the pandemic halted Minor League Baseball in 2020, Bonaci made the most of his time away from organized activities that summer and subsequently stood out at the Red Sox’ fall instructional league program.
“Bonaci looked the best of the young group of middle infielders in camp,” SoxProspects.com’s director of scouting Ian Cundall wrote in December 2020. “He showed good athleticism and average bat speed with good bat control. He is not the fastest player, but does have the quick twitch athleticism you look for in the middle infield and a solid blend of instincts and physical ability that should allow him to stick at shortstop long-term.”
With the momentum he gained at fall instructs, Bonaci came into 2021 regarded by Baseball America as the No. 19 prospect in Boston’s farm system. In the spring, he broke camp having been assigned to rookie-level Florida Complex League Red Sox.
In 36 games with the FCL Red Sox, the switch-hitting infielder batted a stout .252/.358/.403 (108 wRC+) to go along with 13 doubles, one triple, two home runs, 17 RBIs, 27 runs scored, 12 stolen bases, 21 walks, and 37 strikeouts over 162 plate appearances.
Those numbers may not exactly stand out on paper, but scouts were still impressed with what they saw from Bonaci during his time in Southwest Florida.
“He has shown advanced pitch recognition skills for his age, but has the tendency to be passive at the plate,” Cundall wrote of Bonaci back in August. “A switch-hitter, he has shown strong feel for hit and contact ability for his age.”
Roughly three weeks before the minor-league season ended, Bonaci received a promotion to Low-A Salem on September 3. In his first exposure to full-season ball, the 19-year-old slashed .224/.269/.327 (63 wRC+) with three doubles, one triple, eight RBIs, five runs scored, three walks, and eight strikeouts across 13 games (52 plate appearances) with Salem to close out the year.
Defensively, Bonaci logged 113 innings at second base and 269 1/3 innings at shortstop between the FCL and Low-A last year. While patrolling second base, he committed just two errors but committed a total of five (all in the FCL) at shortstop.
Despite those miscues, Cundall did note over the summer that Bonaci ” has a strong arm and shows the defensive ability to stick at shortstop” as opposed to moving over to second base.
Bonaci, who turns 20 in July, is currently listed at 5-foot-10 and 164 pounds. The Catia La Mar native is projected by SoxProspects.com to begin the 2022 season where he left off in 2021: Salem.
On that note, the 2022 campaign could prove to be somewhat of a pivotal one for Bonaci, who can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his career next winter. The Red Sox would need to add him to their 40-man roster to prevent that from happening.
(Picture of Brainer Bonaci: Bryan Green/Flickr)